You might be feeling we’ve already arrived at a dystopian present, but take heart!  Things could be worse – much worse – as the films of Quarantine Cinema 6 prove.  We start with the original dystian biker films of the 1970s and 80s: Mad Max, Tron, The Bronx Warriors, and Akira, all magnificent.  We follow up with a contemporary film from our own friend Eric Ristau, which is so present-day it hurts – ‘The Last Motorcycle on Earth.’  It’s just come out, and oh dear the timing…

1. Mad Max (1979)

“You don’t wanna make Max mad!”

The original and best? Hard to say with so many sequels, but there’s no arguing with the original Mad Max. [Studio poster]

George Miller’s boisterous take on a dystopian future, inspired half by the injuries he witnessed as an emergency room doctor, and half by the effect of the ’73 Oil Crisis on Australians. ‘Mad Max’, (Mel Gibson before his nutso transformation into an anti-Semitic ultra-Catholic) is a brutal highway patrolman cruising the outback, in a world full of particularly harsh criminal gangs.  A motorcycle gang in particular comes in for Max’s attention, and the sadistic tension between Max and his charismatic nemesis is a kinetic masterpiece, inspired, believe it or not, by the silent film antics of Buster Keaton!  It helps to keep a sense of humor, well, in all things. Watch the trailer on The Vintagent here.

Amazing feats of filmmaking! We love this shot of the gonzo filming of Mad Max. [Imdb]

Watch ‘Mad Max’ on YouTube for $3.99.

2. TRON (1982)

The Electronic Gladiator

The original Tron pandered shamelessly to video gamers and arcade kids, but managed to be something more than fluff. [Studio poster]

Ten years after his debut performance in ‘The Last Picture Show’, the Dude himself (Jeff Bridges) plays a computer/video game hacker and arcade owner, who is digitized and trapped inside a computer game by the evil Master Control.  The gorgeous early ’80s vision of the neon-dark world of computers is made so much better by the first iteration of the Light Cycle, the original electro-future motorcycle used in a gladiatorial combat game. Will Bridges’ character Flynn outwit Master Control’s computer program?  Man fighting the Machine is an old trope, going all the way back to masterworks like Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’ and Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Alphaville’, but ‘Tron’ is the first to incorporate the specific appearance of computer games, and is a real classic. Watch the trailer on The Vintagent here. 

Lightcycles! At the time, these were the cutting edge of computer-to-film renditions, and they did the trick. [Imdb]

Watch ‘Tron’ for $2.99 on Youtube here.


3. 1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982)

“City authorities declare the wasteland of the South Bronx a high-risk area.”

Rock band or B-movie? You tell us, could be either! A forgotten gem from a rough era in NYC history. [Studio poster]

It’s the future – 1990!  Let’s face it, only a small stretch of imagination was required for this one in 1982, when NYC was bankrupt, and the Bronx was burning  and half destroyed.  The borough was a ready-made set for a Mad Max-style anarcho-brutalist dystopian film, with The Riders a dominant gang led by a dead ringer for a metal band singer.  The Riders are constantly challenged by cops, clowns, and roller skating hockey players who kill. The film hired a few Hells Angels as riders, and the bikes include a fab selection of late ’70s machines…but the sorriest examples. It’s a scream!  Watch the trailer on The Vintagent here.

The cast included local riders and Hells Angels, of course. Don’t ask us where to get those skull lamps – we want them too! [Imdb]

Watch ‘The Bronx Warriors’ FREE on Cine Meccanica here.


4. Akira (1988)

“The end of the world was only the beginning.”

Before the West understood anime, Akira broke new ground in making a popular feature cartoon about a dystopian future. [Studio poster]

OMG, it’s 2019!  We had such high expectations for The Future, but sadly, only disease has stepped up to the plate to fulfill our dark dreams of the nasty world we think we deserve.  After all, nobody’s making Utopian films: ask your therapist for confirmation. Set in 2019 (last year!), Akira is set in a world of flying cars, and tells the story of Shōtarō Kaneda, a leader of a biker gang whose childhood friend, Tetsuo Shima, acquires incredible telekinetic abilities after a motorcycle accident.   Tokyo was destroyed in WW3, and Tetsuo’s abilities threaten an entire military complex, setting off chaos and rebellion in Neo-Tokyo.  In the best tradition of anime films, Akira is a classic, and worth adding to your list of faves.  Watch the trailer on The Vintagent here.

Often copied, never bettered, Akira’s motorcycle is something special. [Imdb]

Watch ‘Akira’  FREE on Tubi.


5. The Last Motorcycle On Earth: Episode 1 (2020)

“Could motorcycles be outlawed?”

It’s a question we often ask ourselves, and one Eric Ristau and his talented team are exploring. [Eric Ristau]

In a world of Self-Driving cars, motorcycles are outlawed: that premise seems so likely I’m already getting chills. In the very near future, gasoline is $20 per gallon, and self-driving cars are taking over. Silicon Valley and the United States Government have collaborated to push society toward a fully-autonomous transportation system. Motorcycles and riders are an easy first target in the drive to ban human-operated vehicles. Impossible, you say? Not so fast.  Watch the trailer on The Vintagent here.

How the world sees us. Especially our moms. [Eric Ristau]

Watch ‘The Last Motorcycle on Earth’ for $1.99 on Amazon here. 


Bonus Films: Sooooo many sequels – dig in!

Watch Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1982) $3.99 on YouTube.

Watch Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985) $2.99 on YouTube. 

Watch Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) $3.99 on YouTube.

Watch TRON: Legacy (2010) $2.99 on YouTube. 

Corinna Mantlo is the Editor for Film at The Vintagent. She is also the owner / lead designer at custom seat maker Via Meccanica. She is also the founder of both Cine Meccanica and the Motorcycle Film Festival. She has contributed to several books, including “The Chopper; The Real Story” (Gestalten 2014) by Paul d’Orleans. In her spare time, Corinna travels as a professional daredevil with the American Motor Drome Co. Wall Of Death.
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